The word “detox” has been used to describe various health-related programs and regimens that remove toxins from the system. For example, for those looking to improve gut health, detoxifying the digestive system refers to removing excess waste and the associated toxins from the colon.
Similarly, for those who have come to rely on drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications to address physical or mental health issues, holistic detox methods can eliminate excess toxins so the body can restore proper neurochemistry and facilitate recovery. Understanding what this entails is crucial for beginning recovery from any sort of substance use, including prescription medications.
Holistic detoxification, or holistic detox, is the physiological process of removing various chemical toxins from the body. Built-up toxins in the body can come from a number of sources and can contribute to symptoms like fatigue, negative mental health effects, dizziness, memory loss, weight gain, poor vision, and more.1 Holistic detox can help the body remove these toxins, restoring and promoting healthy functioning, particularly that of your body’s waste management system.
For those dealing with substance use disorder (SUD), street drugs, misused prescription medications, and alcohol can be primary sources of accumulated toxins. Prescription medications taken as directed can further contribute to toxin accumulation in the body’s fatty tissues, leading to the effects listed above as well as a breakdown of the toxin-flushing systems in the body. The main systems that contribute to natural waste removal include your liver, lungs, digestive tract, skin, and kidneys.
Supporting those organs and their functions is important for restoring homeostasis, or balance within the mind and body, which can then support other therapeutic methods to improve mental and physical health. In cases where someone is struggling with SUD, clearing toxins is necessary to help promote further healing.
Why Seek Holistic Detox Treatment?
Getting treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is a vital step toward beginning healing from the damage done to the body and mind by these toxic substances. It is just as important to address the ongoing damage done by environmental toxins and prescription medications. Unfortunately, medications were meant to provide healing but instead often lead to mental and physical health issues due to their artificial influence on bodily systems and their growing toxicity within the body.
Clearing medication toxins from the body with a holistic detox can help you not only eliminate addictive substances from your body but can also help you address the brain fog, fatigue, electrical “zaps,” immune issues, anxiety, depression, and other problems that can come from residual medication toxicity. A holistic process focuses on many ways to help the body restore its ability to heal itself, enabling a custom program to be tailored to the individual. Best of all, holistic methods during gradual cessation of the medication can support and even accelerate the healing process.
Starting the holistic detox process at Alternative to Meds Center typically begins with an initial medical evaluation on site.
Initial Medical Evaluation
When entering a holistic detox program, the first step in creating an effective treatment plan is understanding the patient’s unique condition. By assessing their situation, their substance of choice, their associated mental health symptoms, and their current prescription regimen alongside routine testing and a psychiatric evaluation, medical professionals can better understand the patient and create an effective holistic detoxification program.
For example, a patient experiencing a long-term alcohol dependency and taking antidepressants is unique from a patient using heroin and taking anti-anxiety medications – and it is likely their physical, cognitive, and mental health symptoms will differ, as well. An initial evaluation and testing can help plan the beginning stages of their treatment which often involves a stabilization period.
Creating a Stable Environment
Holistic detoxification works best in an environment that contributes to a patient’s success. The environment where holistic detox takes place must be supportive, engaging, and staffed with experts who can effectively manage the withdrawal process.This requires the implementation of a full therapeutic menu of what the client will need before, during, and after the holistic detox process.
The stabilization process may involve improving sleep, nutrition, and pain management if needed, so that the drug withdrawal process is starting from a relatively stable condition. Often, clients may have multiple addictions, including alcohol, that require a coordinated set of steps addressing each of these factors in an orderly and medically safe way.
Holistic Support During Withdrawal from Prescription Medications
Dependence becomes a driver of continuing to use prescription drugs. When the drug is stopped or delayed, withdrawal symptoms emerge. If the drug suppressed original symptoms, these often return if the drug is stopped, and with a vengeance. Holistic prescription drug withdrawal offers the opportunity to not only gently withdraw the drug, using natural methods to soften the withdrawal reactions, but to also lessen and eliminate the original symptoms that led to drug use in the first place. This is the aim of holistic support during prescription drug withdrawal.2
Some common types of prescription medications that can cause severe withdrawal periods include benzodiazepines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids, and others. Each class of drug has its own timeline for recovery due to such differences as the drug’s half-life, the age and general health of the client, the dosage, and the length of time it was taken. And, each class of drug will have its own effective methods and protocols during holistic drug withdrawal.36
Common Holistic Detoxification Procedures
Tackling the psychological effects of substance dependency is just as important as treating the physical effects, so effective holistic detox treatments will aim to handle both. Some of the most common methods used in holistic detox programs include:
Medication Tapering and Medical Oversight
A safe medication tapering program with oversight by a trained physician is the safest and most comfortable way to begin medication tapering.
Oftentimes, those taking prescription medications are doing so for pain management. Prescription drug holistic detoxification for those with chronic pain requires the creation of an effective pain management plan that can offer pain relief, and gradually eliminate the need for prescription medication.
Group support can be a very effective way to learn about and use new tools to deal with issues moving forward. Finding others going through the same struggles can create a comforting sense of community during the holistic detox process.
Individual Counseling and Psychotherapy
In addition, individual sessions can provide a safe space for discovering different ways to resolve personal issues. At an appropriate point in their program, One-on-one counseling sessions allow those going through their holistic detox to find the personal reasons for substance use, develop non-drug-based strategies to address mental health conditions and develop more positive life skills that will reinforce success after leaving the program.
Residential treatment centers help those with addiction issues by giving them a safe and stable environment, access to round-the-clock care, and the independence needed to facilitate the recovery process. This also helps those who face triggering factors in their normal environment so they can avoid situations that could lead to relapse.
Holistic detoxification from prescription medications like SSRIs and pain medication at Alternative to Meds Center is a multi-phased process involving finding root causes for symptoms, addressing them so they are lessened or eliminated, cleansing the body of built-up neurotoxins, and gentle drug withdrawal for full and complete recovery. In a residential facility, these goals can be accomplished without distractions or outside pressures.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Holistic detox enables a softer withdrawal process because it concurrently purges toxic accumulations from the body that may have contributed to original symptoms in the first place.
Holistic detox programs can include a range of cleansing and comfort therapies, as well as orthomolecular and nutritional support for rehabilitating neurochemistry.
A European clinical trial showed acupuncture significantly lessened opiate withdrawal symptoms which can otherwise be extremely severe.7
Massage therapy improves circulation and reduces inflammation and muscle fatigue, providing welcome comfort and relaxation during withdrawal and recovery after drug use.8
The skin is the largest organ in your body, and one of the body’s most efficient methods of releasing toxins occurs through the skin. The steam of a sauna can help open the pores and stimulate sweat release, which allows toxins to come to the surface of the skin. Saunas can also be good for stress relief and relaxation, which can reduce anxiety and encourage a more clear, more focused mindset during the holistic detox process.9
Ionic Foot Baths
Similar to sauna therapy, ionic foot baths may help draw out the toxins in your body through your feet. The ions in water droplets are charged by a low-voltage current that is released by an ionizing apparatus. These charged elements have the potential to draw out and remove harmful substances from the body. In essence, the toxins that are clogging up the system seem to be pulled out as if by a magnet. As a result, the water in the foot bath starts to change color as it gets filled with the chemical buildup drawn out of the body.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
One of the best ways to stimulate physical metabolism and improve mental health symptoms can be through exercise. Toxins are generally fat-soluble, which is why part of the cleansing process at Alternative to Meds Center uses natural supplementation to convert these fat-soluble toxins to water-soluble.
Then the toxins can be released through sweat and normal elimination channels. Exercise can help accelerate this process, without the liability of taxing the internal organs with the flushing out process. Plus, exercising outdoors can also increase vitamin D exposure, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression commonly felt by those who have used prescription medications.12
Getting the right nutritional support can be essential for a successful holistic detox plan. Fueling the body properly can be important to restore mental health naturally. Gut health is also key to recovery of mental health and can be corrected through nutrition and supplementation. A healthy microbiome enables safe and gentle purging of pollutants from the body.10
Supplements and Enzymes
Creating the right balance of nutrients and enzymes is key to ensuring both mental and physical health. Given the right raw materials, the body can rid itself of toxic buildup, and support optimum body function. Supplements can restore vitamin and nutrient levels depleted by poor nutrition or medication toxicity. For example, glutathione is essential to promote toxin excretion and neutralization. That is the reason nebulized glutathione is offered at Alternative to Meds Center for clients during and after gradual medication withdrawal.11
We firmly believe in the benefits of addressing the whole person during the prescription drug holistic detoxification process. To reduce and remove the accumulated burden these and other toxic substances can cause on your body and brain, it is important to begin with a series of lab tests. Lab testing informs the best way forward for each individual. In addition, we will assess any present physical, neurological, and mental health issues that may require additional treatment especially if it needs to be addressed before medication withdrawal is started.
Based on your lab and examination results, we will build a personalized, comprehensive holistic detoxification program unique to you. With holistic detoxification, you can focus on the work of recovery, beginning your long-lasting healing journey.
Lerner, A., & Klein, M. (2019). Dependence, withdrawal and rebound of CNS drugs: an update and regulatory considerations for new drugs development. Brain Communications, 1(1), fcz025. https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcz025
Edinoff, A. N., Nix, C. A., Hollier, J., Sagrera, C. E., Delacroix, B. M., Abubakar, T., … & Kaye, A. D. (2021). Benzodiazepines: uses, dangers, and clinical considerations. Neurology international, 13(4), 594-607. https://doi.org/10.3390/neurolint13040059
Pergolizzi Jr, J. V., Raffa, R. B., & Rosenblatt, M. H. (2020). Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of chronic opioid use and opioid use disorder: Current understanding and approaches to management. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, 45(5), 892-903. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpt.13114
Gabriel, M., & Sharma, V. (2017). Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal – journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 189(21), E747. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.160991
Montazeri K, Farahnakian M, Saghaei M. The effect of acupuncture on the acute withdrawal symptoms from rapid opiate detoxification. Acta Anaesthesiol Sin. 2002 Dec;40(4):173-7. PMID: 12596615.
Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Estwing Ferrans, C. (2010). Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues in mental health nursing, 31(6), 385–393. https://doi.org/10.3109/01612840903437657
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
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